Chapter 1: Look What the Dead Dragged In….
Erick McGrath’s hands shook as he pulled into the rest stop, but he couldn’t chicken out now.
He glanced at the bright pink flyer on the seat next to him, hoping the piece of paper would give him courage. As soon as he’d found an opportunity, he’d snatched the paper off the social bulletin board in his dorm.
Club Zombie Invites You to
Come as You Are
Come as You Want to Be
Or Just Cum
Club Zombie wasn’t the kind of place Erick would normally have the guts to visit. He recalled his father forbidding Ethan to go. Though like most things their parents told his brother not to do, Ethan simply ignored the warning and did exactly what he wanted.
Erick swallowed the sob threatening to escape. God, it was almost a year since Ethan died in a car crash, and he missed his brother so much.
Even though their father had tried to pit them against each other, Erick had resisted and always looked up to Ethan. He never had time for close friends, but having Ethan had eased his loneliness. Now his brother was gone, and if Erick learned anything, it was life could be cruel and way too short. You needed to grab happiness where you could, and that’s what he planned to do.
Ethan would have been proud Erick escaped—kind of—from under their father’s thumb. Though truth be told, neither parent paid Erick much attention since he’d gone to college. They assumed he’d do as he should, and he was far less interesting than his father’s businesses and his mother’s charity events.
Erick had always freaking done what they expected. To avoid his father’s wrath, he jumped through all of the McGrath family hoops. He excelled in the internships, the summer jobs, and got into all the colleges his father chose. He even studied prelaw, though he hated the idea of becoming a lawyer.
His brother had been the opposite and had thumbed his nose at expectations whenever he could. Though Ethan could always weather any storm, at times Erick felt Ethan might have invited trouble. But not him. Wimpy Erick had always avoided conflict.
Fibbing to his parents about needing to stay on campus during spring break—under the guise of getting more work done—was a monumental milestone, though they didn’t bat an eyelash and seemed relieved not to have to deal with him.
Instead of his usual Friday night study session, he cut class and drove to the middle of nowhere in South Carolina.
Erick took a deep, steadying breath, grabbed his stuff out of the back seat, and headed to the restrooms.
Finding a single bathroom, Erick entered and locked the door. He put his dress bag on the hook and stripped. With his hands still trembling, he unzipped the bag.
All week he’d kept trying on the contents again and again. He had ironed the sleeveless, slate-blue-and-white top, then carefully pressed the darts into crisp lines so the matching skirt would be flirty. His cheerleading costume was beautiful. Well, uniform really, because he ordered a real one.
He put his arms through the lacy padded bra. Why were the hooks in the back?
Darn it, he should have gotten the front closure one, even if the slate-blue one had been out of stock. When he won the bra war, he slipped into the matching satin panties.
He caught his reflection in the mirror. Wow! Stepping closer he stared. Ah, that’s why I splurged.
Sighing, he pulled on the poly-blend top. The fabric glided down his body and cinched at the waist. He stepped into the slate-blue skirt and zipped it closed. Next, he pulled on the blue bloomers, then stepped back from the mirror to get the complete view.
Erick giggled and spun. The skirt swirled around him, twirling up to show the bloomers.
He looked adorable, like a teen ready to cheer for her boyfriend.
Time to get back on the road, so he threw on his sneakers, and his overcoat over the uniform, grabbed his backpack, and scurried to the car.
The drive to the club took forever.
A road sign warned, Zombies Ahead. Another made him laugh: Zombies Suck.
The Club Zombie sign beckoned him. He was finally here.
Geez, the parking lot looked full, but he found a spot under the neon-lit Club Zombie sign.
Shit. Erick sat in his car outside the club. Could he really go in?
Peering into the visor mirror, he traced eyeliner around his eyes and dabbed on a bit of brown shadow. He rubbed in the color the way they did on the YouTube videos, but his blending didn’t look nearly as good. Though not too bad after he added some mascara, but he needed something else. He swept his hair into two somewhat sloppy and possibly crooked ponytails on either side of his head.
Jumping out of the car, he threw his coat into the back seat, and caught his reflection in the window.
“Darn it.” His hair looked like a mess. Maybe he should have gotten a hotel room so he could better prepare. He made some adjustments and then decided screw it. Ethan wouldn’t have let lack of perfection bother him one bit. Erick would own his messy hair.
Feeling light and free, he spun in a circle and giggled.
He slipped back into the car, toed off his sneakers and the socks, and put on an impractical pair of heels. Looking down his shaved legs to his feet, prettily displayed in heels, he grinned.
Time to go. Grabbing his blue-and-white pom-poms and his beloved purse—a tiny white leather wrist clutch he’d nabbed at a vintage store—he stepped out of the car.
He stared at the neon lights of Club Zombie.
It was now or never, so he did what his big brother would have done and headed into the club.